Can Roadways Be Environmentally Sustainable?
While an essential element of life in the USA, roads and other highways are often environmentally disastrous. The materials involved in road construction have a high carbon footprint, they are often costly in terms of upkeep and studies have shown that road construction harms ecology and habitats. However, while the users of the road might be improving their environmental impact through electric cars, the effects are still pronounced. And roads are not going away.
Changing your personal usage of unsustainable products has a pronounced effect and spurs on manufacturers do improve their practices. But can roads be made more sustainable, including your own driveways?
Currently, most roadways are made from impermeable asphalt or concrete. Both of these types prevent water runoff and are liable to cracking and breaking under hot sunlight. They encompass all of the negative factors outlined above that make roads an ecological disaster. However, designers have started to get creative with permeable driveways. Often, these come as a simple as flipping a design round; providing a minimum area to allow for vehicle movement and driveway accessibility to the home and putting down grass or other permeable surfaces like gravel elsewhere. This also has the added effect of helping wastewater and other pollutants to drain sooner, reducing toxic load on city waterways.
Self Repairing Materials
Roads made from self repairing materials have always been around. Many places have used roads that are capable of taking water swell and freeze-thaw without becoming damaged beyond repair. However, technology has taken this to another level and labs in the Netherlands are testing fully self-repairing road technology. Whilst still consuming materials that leave a carbon footprint, this innovation should hopefully help to vastly reduce repair costs and the need for resurfacing in the future.
The production of new asphalt is by far the biggest producer of carbon when factoring in the production of new roads, requiring sustained high heats that consume mass amounts of fuel. This is to create the base material and then keep it hot for laying. Recycling has helped hugely in this regard by producing the base material, largely eliminating one stage of the destructive heating process. This can be used with homeowners and manufacturers, with recycling plants easily locatable with modern mapping tech.
Road construction is inevitable, but a dire environmental and sustainable impact is not. Technological trends and awareness are driving green road building for both consumers and manufacturers. By- Sally Writes
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